Thursday, April 12, 2012

One Stupid Thing About Latin...

Ecclesiastical Latin, at least, is the way the weekdays are just named "Feria II," "Feria III," etc.

There's something so cold seeming about that to me. Sabbato for Saturday and Dominica for Sunday are better, of course. And I suppose importing the names of pagan gods (even if just referencing "planets") would be a little weird too, especially since Saturn's Day already is the Sabbath, and the Sun's Day is already the Lord's, so (even though several Romance languages do this anyway) you'd get an "incomplete set" if you just renamed the other five days that way (not to mention that some people would point out that the "classical planets" don't include Uranus or Neptune...)

So I don't really know what sort of solution to offer here. But I will say this is one place where English takes the cake, by far. "Good Friday" is so much more evocative than "Feria VI in Parasceve" (sort of redundant given that "parasceve," day of preparation, came to mean "Friday" among the Jews anyway) and "Ash Wednesday" so much more poetic and organic feeling than "Feria IV in Cinera."

I guess it's just the inclusion of numerals that makes it seem this way to me. If you translated "Feria VI" as "Sixthsday" or something, I suppose I could see that as being more organic or poetic, but as it stands "Weekday 6 in Preparation" is rather perfunctory.

5 comments:

Max said...

I never really thought about this before, but was the "Feria II, Feria III" scheme simply a way of avoiding using the old pagan names (dies Lunae, dies Martis, etc.)? As you note, Saturday and Sunday were baptized with 'new' Christian names - so why not the rest of the week? (I'm not saying we should do this now, I'm just expressing surprise that the Church seems not to have found time to do this at some point in the last two millennia.)

Mark of the Vineyard said...

St. Martin of Braga gave us Portuguese our weekday names back in the 6th century, to eliminate the pagan references. To this day ours is the only Romance language that uses the Church's terminology (though "feria" has become "feira").

Robert said...

Perhaps these names are a reference to the Jewish practices. Days are still named as day 1,2,3,4,5,6 and sabbath. This idea might have a foot to stand on since dies dominica replaces where feria 1 would logically be placed.

Michael said...

This is sense-less hair-splitting. Who cares what it's called in Latin?

Who Am I said...

@Mark, and Robert:

You're right, the names for the days of the week allude to the Jewish days of Creation. Greek in like manner does the same, in particular Sunday (Kyriake Himera (The Lord's Day (Domingo in Spanish)).